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Left Behind


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My teeth made crushing grinding noises, my knuckles grew white in flexed concentration, my rather impressive biceps swelled with effort. Crinkling my eyes into rumpled balls that probably resembled a tossed out orange carcass, I knew I had to fulfill my duty: I must keep the Port-A-Potty door closed.
Drunken men stumbled right outside our cramped sanctuary, their inebriated voices slurring and their sixth or seventh beer bottle crashing to the cement in a heap of glass and alcohol. Ten-o-clock on a summer’s Saturday night in Pensacola Beach, Florida, was not an ideal time for three 15 year old girls to be roaming outside alone. Yet the three of us—Hannah, Allison, and I—were left behind from the rest of our swim team when we stopped for some last-minute mint chocolate chip ice cream. We found ourselves crowded into a handicapped Port-A-Potty so we could at least change out of the dripping wet bikinis that none of us could fill out anyway, feeling like three stupid baby rabbits about to be devoured by a hungry fox.
After several frenzied minutes of tittering about the pitch-black confinement, we finally decided upon a plan of action. One of us would keep the creaky, unstable door closed, one would hold up their cell phone as a feeble substitute for a flashlight in the darkness, and the other would change into dry clothes. Trying to feel accomplished for devising such a brilliant system, but nonetheless more terrified than the time I got lost in Venice for half an hour, I kept the frantic voices in my head to myself. What if those men find out we’re in here? What if we get raped? How are we going to get back to the bus? Though they didn’t say anything, I’m pretty sure Allison and Hannah were having similar thoughts—I could see it in the death-grip that Allison had on the door and the uncharacteristic quiver in Hannah’s voice as she repeated inaudible prayers over and over again.
Ten minutes later, we’re ready. Armed with soggy wet swimsuits and sand-filled towels, the three of us grab each other’s hands, eventually count to three (1…2…wait! 1…2…2 ½ …2 ¾ …3!), and carefully push open the Port-A-Potty door, using our sleeves to avoid touching the germy handle. Sitting together in my mom’s car, their faces damp with sweat from worrying, we spot my mom and Hannah’s mom in the street about 20 yards away. We run to them.
Now, almost a year later, we laugh about that horrible situation, jokingly telling our story to family and friends. Not that they could ever really understand.
“I wasn’t scared,” Hannah pronounces with her hands on her bony hips.
“It really wasn’t that bad. Those drunk guys didn’t scare me!” Allison declares, her green eyes flashing, daring someone to challenge her statement.
“Yeah,” I lie, “me neither.”
Maybe they weren’t that scared. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, but still, my pulse quickens every time I tell the story. Once more, I smell the stale odor of cigarettes and beer, taste the salty sea residue and minty ice cream on my lips, but also I hear Hannah’s falsely confident voice and feel Allison’s fingers in mine. Like that old Cherokee fable about trying to break apart a whole bundle of sticks, on that night we weren’t three, but an unbreakable, indestructible, one.



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PerfectMGymnast This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm:
very well written and it kept my attention the whole time!!! :)
 
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kileyCecile said...
Oct. 6, 2010 at 5:47 am:
very nice... I liked it a lot. 
 
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